Nissan Leaf Upends Preconceived Notions


The ideas that have pervaded about electric cars such as the 2012 Nissan Leaf is that these kinds of vehicles are expensive and are able only to travel short limited distances. While there have been Nissan Leaf tests done that the vehicle can run 15,000 miles in just a year, others have pushed the boundaries of the electric car milieu.

One such trailblazer is a 2011 Nissan Leaf owner that has traveled 36,000 miles in just eleven months. The performance of this vehicle has proven that electric cars do more than just a short hop, skip, and jump to the nearest convenience store.

Steve Marsh is the owner of this Nissan Leaf, as he faced a 130 mile daily commute to his workplace at Taylor Shellfish in Washington State. Faced with monstrous gasoline bills for the travel, he opted to purchase a Nissan Leaf to see if his fuel costs would go down, as promised.

He said, “I really bought it with the idea that there was a chance I could save money buying this car. My Honda Accord had over 300,000 miles on it and I started thinking about another car. I have driven more than 200,000 miles on every car we have owned so I looked at the Leaf expecting it to do the same.”

The savings he earned were not quite what he predicted, but still was beyond expectations. He added, “I thought maybe my net cost of ownership would be nearly zero taking into account the much lower operating costs – like getting gasoline for $0.80 per gallon. I now know that this expectation was unreasonable, but after all the tax credits and no sales tax in the state of Washington, I feel it is like purchasing a $23,000 new car. So far, at 36,000 miles, I’m now under $20,000 in equivalent costs.”

While he made the decision was made out of financial reasons, he still paid a $99 online reservation fee before test driving the car. He was only able to test drive the Nissan Leaf when the 2011 model was available in Seattle.

He recounts, “It was cold, no snow but it was really cold. My wife looked at it and said, ‘It’s a regular car!” She was expecting something small like the Smart Car. We drove it around the block and that was the end of our tour.”

Marsh’s commute is well above the 73 mile EPA approved distance of the Nissan Leaf. It wasn’t the commute though that was the issue. He said “We bought the house when the kids were born. We’ve lived here for 22 years and now our kids are about to graduate from college. This house is paid for and this is the shortest commute I’ve had in my working life. It gives me a chance to wind down on the way home from work.”

The 130 mile commute is not easy for the Leaf, especially on the freeway. The only solution was to get a charging station at his workplace. Ecotality did not agree to install one at his workplace. What he was able to do was convince his company to install one as it is good PR for the company, to which they agreed.

During all that travel time and distance, the 2011 Nissan Leaf has performed impeccably. His travel is between 62 and 65 miles one way, depending on the route taken. He averages sixty miles per hour and admits that the Leaf gets to rest during the weekends. There is one downside though, sacrificing heat for range, to make sure he gets to work or home when traveling during winter.